Agritourism Workshops to Focus on Farm Safety

By Tobie Blanchard, LSU AgCenter 

BATON ROUGE, La. – The LSU AgCenter will host two agritourism safety management workshops in March to help people who use their lands for educational or recreational purposes follow good safety practices.  

PaPa Simpson’s Farm, 961 Rich Road in Arcadia, will host the first workshop on March 7, and Mrs. Heather’s Farms, 31458 La. Highway 43 in Albany, will host the second on March 9. Both will be from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and follow the same program. 

Marsha Salzwedel from the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health in Wisconsin will walk participants through the farms and talk about safety concerns. Hazards will be placed across each farm to teach participants about mitigating safety for their guests.  

LSU AgCenter agritourism coordinator Dora Ann Hatch and Maria Bampasidou, assistant professor in the LSU AgCenter Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, will outline the steps for becoming a certified agritourism business. AgCenter information technology coordinator Tanya Ruffin will provide training on using social media and technology. 

Participants will have the opportunity to exchange information with other agritourism operators about how they keep their farms safe for visitors. 

“The information shared at this workshop will assist participants in developing their safety plan,” Hatch said.  

Agritourism operators host visitors who may have never visited a farm. Hatch said visitors’ unfamiliarity with animals, equipment and the terrain puts the farm operators at risk for injury and lawsuits.  

The Louisiana Agritourism Limited Liability Law went into effect in 2008 to limit the liability of agritourism operators for injuries that occur through no fault of the operator.  

“The law provides that each person seeking protection under the law complete a safety plan of operation, which is reviewed by the LSU AgCenter and sent to the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry for certification,” Hatch said.  

This is the second workshop series funded through a grant from U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Southern Risk Management Education Center. 

Bampasidou said the grant presents the opportunity to work on key topics that agritourism operators face. 

“In traditional agriculture, we tend to worry more about production and financial risks. Agritourism operators are asked to manage an extra layer of liabilities,” Bampasidou said. “Establishing a clear plan for safety and emergency management is essential for the viability of the agritourism business and also can alleviate the financial and legal risks associated with running the business.”  

Both Papa Simpson’s Farm and Mrs. Heather’s Farms have been in existence for more than 10 years and are destinations for school groups and families  

Participants can register by Feb. 28 for the workshops. The program is free, and lunch is included. Online registration for the March 7 workshop can be found at http://bit.ly/2jvC0T6, and registration for March 9 is at http://bit.ly/2jLfo4C.